Citizens ask for shelter in place


Petition grows to more than 600 overnight


Hopkins County citizens are petitioning their leaders to enact shelter in place, according to social media and a petition.

On the evening of March 31, citizens began circulating a petition for Hopkins County to enact a shelter-in-place order.

“Please let city officials know you stand strong in the desire for them to place a Shelter in Place order for Hopkins County to help flatten the curve,” the petition stated. “We have a social responsibility to keep our community, our elderly, our children, our families and ourselves safe from COVID-19 by doing the only thing that truly helps. It’s time our officials hear our pleas.”

The petition reached over 600 signatures in a 12-hour period.

Citizens weighed in on social media as well. Cumby citizen Laurie Stone Caldwell asked, “What’s Hopkins county’s ‘Magic Number’ before they take action?”

“They do need to order a shelter in place,” citizen Andrea Sprague agreed. “So many people [are] going out shopping because there’s nothing else to do when they need to stay home.”

Citizens additionally mentioned concerns that because Hopkins County had not issued a shelter at home, they feared residents of other counties, such as Dallas and Collin counties, were entering the area searching for supplies or shelter.

“There are a lot of people coming from out of town to our area. …They will still get out and do what they want,” said citizen Theresa Wood. “I worked in Yantis yesterday, and there were a lot of people coming in from Dallas to go to their lake house.”

County government officials themselves stated this was a problem, as county government offices had to close their lobbies to all non-Hopkins County residents as residents from Dallas County came seeking marriage licenses, according to Hopkins County Judge Robert Newsom.

“I wish that they would call it, but I guess they worry about the small business people. That’s all I can figure,” said citizen Toni Coleman Hutson.

However, according to citizen Mitzi Y’Barbo, a lockdown would not necessarily have the consequences intended.

“Unfortunately, even if they do order, there will have to be consequences for not following,” Y’Barbo said. “If they don’t have the sense to do it on their own, they will not follow directions either.”

“If we don’t do enough, we’ll know it for sure. If we do too much, we’ll never know,” said City Manager Marc Maxwell.

Maxwell is not the authority that governs whether or not a shelter order is instituted; this power falls to the county judge and can be ratified by the county commissioners. Although Maxwell said he worries about the economic impact a shutdown could have on the local economy, he said he feels it is “probably time.”

Hopkins County Judge Robert Newsom was with the emergency management team Tuesday morning and could not be immediately reached.